F.E.A.R

Okay. No putting it off any longer. What am I doing in 2019?

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There is a PHENOMENAL amount of work that needs poking with sharpened graphite sticks, for starters. A year’s worth of failed poetry, to be picked apart and then reconstructed… before I start thinking about the new things I’d like to do. 24 Adjectives for Pain, Five / Seven / Five and that’s before we stick long form fiction and the short stories into the mix. Writing is no longer the problem. Working out what gets priority has become the… er, priority.

Probably, we will need MOAR TEA. Undoubtedly.

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That means that every night this week there will be pencils and paper out, and lists will begin to be shaped and formed from the detritus of the previous year. There’s also a need to go and edit the existing stuff saved here, before we start throwing anything else out into the world. Now, that might mean that in January we’ll cut back on Twitter content to accommodate this, or maybe tweak what’s already in existence to compensate. The GIF/Rhyme aspect of December’s Advent Calender’s an interesting diversion, that could easily be adapted as a starting point…

Whatever happens, there will be better organisation than there has been previously, of that you can be absolutely certain…

Poetry Archive :: Calm

Done for the year. Poetry output needs a rethink next year. Don’t worry, I’m already on it.

Thank you for sticking with me ❤


Calm

Surrounded, alone, motorway home:
metal boxes full, gift-wrapped journey;
glad we left early. Calm storms away,
inevitable festive holiday; hooray.

Exodus movements, firmament’s
guiding star, bulging cars: present tense
common sense solution, restitution.
Payback guilt, family’s faith rebuilt.

Arrival, survival: unpacking, get cracking:
festive season, transport’s reason. All
is calm, homecoming balm; relax…
Christmas parallax inclination, celebration.

Morning, presents calling: unwrap, attack
batteries, toys please. Dinner’s done, everyone
together sits, hats don’t fit… who cares, stares
party time, too much wine? Sleep, don’t weep.

Time to go, take it slow, holiday… done.
Festive fun, course run, redefines
better times: sharp reminder, be kinder.
Be change, rearrange life without strife.

Look Out Any Window

Lots of things matter to me. Some are fairly frivolous (see Bond fan fiction) but others come from a lifetime of noticing stuff other people seem to overlook. Environmentalism has been in my life since my teens, donating to Friends of the Earth for over thirty years. We don’t send gifts to close family and relations any more: instead the money that would be spent goes to charities so that it can be used in the most productive fashion possible.

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In the last couple of years, I’ve really learnt to appreciate the value of other people in my life, and how seemingly random interactions can add up to significant and meaningful online friendships. For the last two years therefore there’s been the desire to spread love as far and wide as possible, and I’m in the midst of a new crop of thank-yous delivered via Twitter. Follow the hashtag #FromMeToYou as the month continues to get the full range of haiku, and (as was the case last year) they’ll all be archived here for posterity when we’re done.

Finally, there’s the gift that just keeps on giving: the .GIF file. One day, I will write a set of poems eulogising the significance small pieces of looped video have bought to millions of lives. The .GIF Advent has run for a few years now, and is one of my consistently most-watched features on the other Twitter account. It’s also a little ray of daily sunshine for yours truly, because, let’s face it, this stuff can make you happiest of all.

The gift of giving is a beautiful thing.

November Short Story: Piper

This story was first serialised in 30 daily parts via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds at 9am and 4pm GMT respectively. It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


Piper

Maggie Piper can’t sleep, won’t take the chance she’ll miss her son again. It’s 1.15 am, brain’s ramped up on coffee, waiting for when the phone sounds a tinny, dissonant alarm at 2.26. Then, without fail, Alfie will start what’s become a weekly, unstoppable sleepwalking ritual. When her husband left in the spring, things were initially difficult between mother and son. Alfie was quiet to begin with, and for a while said nothing at all at school or to friends. Then, Maggie decided to just tell him the truth, no frills. That altered a lot between them.

He admitted relief that Dad had left, watching violent abuse meted out after drinking and late shifts and had no idea how to help. His father had ignored him for years, the loss was nothing he felt either angry or upset about. What mattered more was their happiness going forward. For a few brief and glorious months, life had been full of smiles and laughter, but after the boy turned 12 in October, something changed. There are gaps in memory that cannot be explained, irritable behaviour, and now, twice a week at 2.26 am, he leaves the house without fail.

She took him to her aunt’s in Blackpool at half term, hoping sea air might help. He was less irritable, but still found his way outside regardless. There he stood, looking down for six minutes before returning to bed. She is too scared to lock doors, no attempt to restrain him… There’s a chirp from the phone, and immediate confusion: who could be sending texts at this time in the morning? Looking at the message, Mags’ brain is simultaneously amazed and frightened by what she reads:

‘My son is going to sleepwalk again tonight too. You are not alone.’

The first thought is to respond but there is no time, as second message appears:

‘Please pack an overnight bag. A car will come at 3am. Don’t be scared, please get in, because if you do we can provide all the answers required to not only help but support you both right now.’

‘How can I trust you?’

‘30 kids in Manchester wake up twice a week like him. One goes to Alfie’s school. We want to help them all and all the other kids across the country who have been doing the exact same thing since October 15th.’

‘There are others?’

‘There are thousands.’

Mags’ not scared any more, but comforted. If there are others like this, there will be a reason why this is happening, and if someone else is already dealing with the issue, she should be involved. There’s twenty minutes before Alfie walks; just time to pack a bag for them both.


It’s still dark as car rolls into the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. Alfie is asleep, head in Mags’ lap seeming far more relaxed and comfortable than she’s seen for a while. The driver, Bill, is a genial Mancunian but has kept silent to allow Mrs Piper time to read as they drove. The folder she’s been given is both reassurance and panic combined: across the UK, since October 15th, exactly 2027 children have been acting as a unit in Manchester, Liverpool and the market town of Nantwich in Cheshire, constituency home of the current Prime Minister’s family.

Elicia Redmayne, eldest daughter of Charles Redmayne, PM, is the most high profile of the 2027 sleepwalking children at the exact same time as Alfie. He’s also absolutely the last person Mag expects to have opening her car door at 4am: he waits, looking more nervous than she is. The papers have been full of his absence from Westminster in the last week: is he unwell? Is there an international crisis in full swing, with government leaders across Scandinavia and Europe also disappearing from public life? Mags now knows real reason why Redmayne’s gone AWOL.

He and his party may be disliked by large portions of the country for socialist policies and a distinct focus on environmental issues over encouraging profits, but there is no doubting the unerring commitment to three children after wife died from Breast cancer a year previously. This man would do anything for his family, and for others. Redmayne takes a still-sleeping Alfie in his arms, carrying the boy to a newly constructed area on the Jodrell Bank site. Khaki tents have been erected: portacabins mark temporary walls of a site where armed guards stand.

Perhaps before it would have scared Mags this place is protected but now there’s an understanding of the scale of Alfie’s significance, the Army serve as reassurance. It isn’t just kids in the UK who are acting as a unit, but across the globe, and to an extremely specific pattern. There’s a medical team waiting already, because this young boy is the last piece of an incredibly complex puzzle that’s taken since October 15th to decrypt.


Mags isn’t very hungry, pushing scrambled eggs around her breakfast plate. This temporary mess hall might be packed, but she feels very much alone. It’s almost lunchtime and Mrs Piper is exhausted, yet too scared to sleep. The briefing she was given still rattles around a brain that is simultaneously happy and stunned: her son is the last of the 2027 UK children to be located. This makes Jodrell Bank unique across the World.

Tonight sleepwalkers will be watched and monitored as the first complete unit to be gathered together in one space. Media is already saturated with this revelation after the story broke in Sweden the previous day. Redmayne will therefore address the nation in the next 30 minutes. The Army have already taken over the entire Butlins holiday camp in Skegness as the only place where 2027 children plus families and observers can be kept together without major issue. As soon as Alfie’s tests are completed they’ll be driven with the PM’s team to join the group.

Tonight, at 2.26am, all kids will be allowed to roam free across the camp. There have already been hints of individuals heading for each other, groups forming before moving to create some kind of shape or message. Various theories will now be examined under controlled conditions. Mags already knows what’s going on in her heart, and that’s what frightens her most. This is no different to all the times husband would manipulate them both, his threats of violence if they didn’t do as they were told. Nothing good ever comes of messing with other people’s minds.

Even if all this could be precursor to some wondrous, life changing event, Mrs Piper is already thinking ahead. Considering every possibility was how her soon to be ex husband was finally found out, his affair and misuse of joint cash exposed with quiet, unemotional efficiency. Her father, an ex Army man himself, had taught many lessons in survival. Always know your exits. Plan for the worst, so the best can be enjoyed as a true surprise. Most importantly, however charismatic and beguiling they may be, never believe politicians know little or nothing.

Watching the PM on screen in a now silent, rapt Mess Hall, all eyes are on his speech; Mags knows he’s lying. They’ll have a chance for conversation on the way to Skegness, and then she’ll push him for the truth. How he reacts will dictate what happens next to Alfie, and for her.

This is not the World she woke up to yesterday.


It is not the World anyone expected today.

Trying not to look back, it is impossible to ignore raging flames in Range Rover’s rear view mirror. Four children huddle on the back seat, too scared to even cry.

Maggie Piper is numb.

At 2.26am, every kid at the holiday park had woken simultaneously: not one sleepwalked. Instead, from their mouths issued noise unlike anything heard on Earth in tens of thousands of years. It was anguished alarm, sending unexplained fear into the souls of each assembled parent. Redmayne had argued long and hard against kids being bought together, but the Scandinavians were adamant. This had happened before in their history; no harm had come to any of the children previously. This time, circumstances were different. Many things had changed in a century.

As connections were lost with Sweden, Norway and Denmark, the UK Military’s communications were ruthlessly severed. These children’s presence alerted the first wave of invasion craft hidden on the far side of the Moon, that Earth was sufficiently self-aware to present a problem. This planet had solved a genetic puzzle planted by the Korsal 8000 years ago, ingrained to determine human’s level of sophistication, alerting when bodily harvesting should finally take place.

Redmayne and Mags, plus their children, are the only survivors from a deadly first strike.

Welcome to the Cheap Seats

Those of you paying attention will notice that the website looks a bit different to the way it did on Wednesday. I’m quite pleased not only with the layout, but that it also allows room for expansion and addition going forward. Now, it is time to fill it with suitable content.

The Posts

#Blogmas is planned and (as I’ll be out tomorrow at the first of two Christmas dinners in the next two weeks) the first post will appear by the wonder of scheduling sometime tomorrow (probably about 5-ish as that’s a good time to maximise traffic.) All the other bits of my December plan are well into production, which includes a vital couple of hours editing a novel so it is complete and to my satisfaction.

I can do this all leading up to Christmas, right?

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A large majority of content can be knocked off beforehand, which means Sunday will be a bit hectic, but it will be worthwhile for the free time that will then be produced. After that? Just gotta remember to sleep and not scoff all my Advent Calendar Chocolates at once, that’s eminently doable. There’s even the possibility of some unscheduled poetry seeing the light of day: there’s a couple of pieces from rejected submissions earlier in the year that can be spruced up and shoved out again for a second try…

From Me To You 2018

Oh, and that reminds me, I have one more placeholder to stick on Twitter before I start writing my personal blog… the first dozen haiku are written. Now it is time to pick the backgrounds and get started with artwork…

The Closing of the Year

After due consideration, our content for December is now finalised.

#Soundtracking December 18

I’m going to use December to re-introduce myself to the World in general via the medium of #Blogmas. It might grab me some new readers, which is never a bad thing. It also gives a buffer for existing content to be built up (see last Friday’s post) and for some much needed editing to take place of older stuff on the site. Mostly, this is an excuse to give everything a good clean and rearrange ready for 2019.

#Narrating December 18

There’s the normal Twitter-based stuff too (as we discussed last week) with the addition of the two playlists above. I’ve spent the last few days getting the static pages for both #Soundtracking2018 and #Narrating2018 up to date and let’s be honest, this is almost a year’s worth of work to feel justifiably proud of. I’m already looking forward to the next 12 months of content. Have you SEEN how much stuff is lying about undiscovered on YouTube???

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Finally, it is time to go hunting for ONLY THE BEST Christmas .GIFs for your entertainment and delight via Twitter. We have a plan, and it is AWESOME. Also, so much shonky stuff this year that you’ll be mildly staggered at the minutes of work involved…

Gift of GIF-mas

Honestly, what else could you possibly want from December?

Sleigh Ride

It’s mid November, and although it might be a wee bit early to shove up the decorations, we can start the process of planning for next month.

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Americans are about to do that Thanksgiving thing shortly, but let’s be honest, a day is not enough. I have loads of people to thank in 2018, far more than I could ever fit in a blog post or a single Tweet. Therefore, for 31 days in December, we’ll be chucking the normal schedule to the wind. Instead, you get a whole month of me using the GIF collection in new and exciting ways, with tons of people who have helped me enormously getting their required moment in the sun.

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The Short Story for December has been heavily influenced by the recent commemoration of the end of World War One, and you can expect content under in the #Narrating2018 and #Soundtracking2018. It’s almost a year since we started this journey, after all. That’s a lot of YouTube content explored, but there is so much more still to come.

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I’ll also be taking the opportunity to edit and clean up all sorts of places, including the year’s output here. You can expect NEW GRAPHICS and some spiffy ways to help me out as the new year approaches. Mostly, December is me giving back to you guys without whom none of this would be possible.

I hope it’s a great month for everybody concerned.

October Short Story: GoldenBalls

WARNING: This story deals with adult themes and should, as a result, be approached responsibly.

This story was first serialised in 31 daily parts via the @MoveablePress and @InternetofWords Twitter feeds at 9am and 4pm GMT respectively. It is now reproduced in a complete form, a number of small edits and corrections made to improve narrative flow and maintain correct continuity.

Enjoy.


GoldenBalls

‘…and that’s the News. Now over to Mandy at the Sports Desk…’

‘Thank you Ellie. Let’s waste no more time and go directly to the Barnsley International Stadium, as the warm up for one of the most hotly anticipated events of the year begins. Can you hear me, Alice Richardson?’

‘Hardly, Mandy, the noise here is unbelievable, that’s no doubt in response to the presence of a local hero inside this stadium. We may not be able to see him yet but his team’s bus arrived just under an hour ago. Owen Chandler’s rightful moment in the sun has finally arrived…’


In the bowels of a building that’s hosted a World Cup and two World Championships, a small, dark room is reassuringly bereft of humanity. Owen sits alone on a hard wooden bench, contemplating next three hours of his life. If all goes to plan? Everything he is will change, forever. He has five minutes before his trainer will arrive, then they will walk to the Preparation Area. A stylist, two make-up artists, costumer plus a twenty-five piece Brass Band have waited for this moment since a now notorious sudden death play-off was won at Newcastle last month.

This event has been anticipated for close to a decade. Hundreds of hours of training, thousands of days where underlying motivation was to arrive here fully prepared. The reality is humbling yet exciting. Owen is ready to win, knows that he can… path to true redemption complete. Looking down to his crotch, it is hard to suppress a grin, which quickly develops into a laugh. Some men might be embarrassed by a genetic quirk, seek surgery to alter their appearance. Not Chandler. After twenty eight years, his enormous balls are finally nothing to joke about.

‘I’m glad you think this is funny.’

His mum stands, dressed in a three piece suit that makes the woman look younger than her years. She’d raised him, taught vital lessons about ignoring bullies, that it was okay being different.

Meg had raised skills to the level of artistry.

As lone parent and now a rookie manager, this was the woman who knew more about bollocks than anyone else: a particular skill in understanding and effectively exploiting the weaknesses of opponents had turned her son, the humble lad from Barnsley, into an international superstar. They walk into the Preparation Area to enthusiastic applause: best mate Sasha is here, with boyfriend and their son, plus Owen’s two younger sisters. Everybody is ready to help out, making sure the evening is as relaxed as possible. Not one person stares or laughs at his crotch.

This ritual had been conducted by his ancestors, by millions of men across the planet for thousands of years. It remained particular rite of passage in over a dozen developing countries, one of whom would be providing his opposition upstairs. It was a dream job, finally accepted. Owen will become the sun, metaphorical representation of that divine light from above that warms the Earth and keeps our planet fruitful and bounteous. His job will be to endure increasing pain and suffering, showing an ability to remain strong, unwavering as a proper concubine.

His balls will be weighed down, increasingly over time, until the pressure is too much and he passes out. The more that is held, greater will be the strength in his seed, an indication to any potential surrogate his sperm will produce a strong and suitable heir for their family. This process was begun nearly ten thousand years ago in Ancient Greece and has remained the number one watched spectator sport ever since. It is the first time a British concubine has reached the final for nearly sixty years, virtually unopposed in competition until semi finals.

That fateful evening had seen the defending European record holder stretchered out of the arena after losing consciousness in sudden death overtime. Both men had endured the same massive weight, but only Owen had managed to stand up and sit down with it attached to his scrotum. A community was divided over whether the whole event should have been declared null and void, with a rematch scheduled, but the World governing body intervened. As last man conscious and standing, Chandler had won, despite competitor’s inability to lift a crucial final weight.

Body paint is complete, on which make-up artists have overlaid the signature, rampant blue dragon holding a trident. The noise of 60,000 strong crowd outside is now too seductive to ignore: they’re chanting his name, over and over, partisan support to intimidate Greek opposition.

This is his moment: all that remains is to win, and well.


‘… yes, I can see Meg Chandler emerging from the Home Team dressing room now, looking immaculate as always and that means that our local hero cannot be far behind. It’s time for Owen to shine as he never has before.’

‘Indeed, and with that it’s time for us to begin coverage of the Concubine World Final. Your summariser is professional Concubine and European Weightlifting champion from 1986 until 1998 Costa Perkov with your commentary lead Paula Anchor, but first up here’s Alice Richardson.’

‘Thank you Mandy. Tonight’s a watershed for legions of semi-professional courtesans who have spent decades in the shadows, reviled and often attacked for the career they’ve chosen to pursue. Tonight, they are given a true hero, inspiration to look up to and emulate going forward. Owen Chandler’s ten years as a welder, into construction straight from school, belied the immense talent hidden beneath his working clothes. Thanks to his mother’s love, persistence, care and sheer determination, he’s become the living epitome of a rags to riches success story.

Tonight he faces Ivan Kerchenko, a man who has wanted for nothing in his entire career, having spent nearly three decades being trained and prepared for this very occasion. His father Yuri remains one of the most significant concubines of the late 20th Century, a true champion. It is estimated that nearly one hundred million people worldwide will be tuning into tonight’s contest which includes millions of ordinary Brits, holding their own special ‘GoldenBalls’ celebrations. We’ve never had a World champion since this contest was relaunched back in 1825.

That noise you can now hear means only one thing: Owen Chandler’s entered the stadium, flanked by his team of medical professionals and stylists… and there’s his family too, all wearing their distinctive blue outfits. Time for talking is over… now we will see who’s strongest.’


When historians looked back on the events of October 23rd, 2018, they did so with an ability to separate facts from fiction. They stared at the official televised footage with disbelief, and then satisfaction that the true winner that evening was fair play and humanity. All those who lost bets on Chandler’s success might feel aggrieved. The fact his competitor’s life was saved using first aid techniques learnt whilst training as a welding apprentice, that CPR was part of a vast arsenal of secondary skills, should really teach an important lesson.

The concubine World Governing Body, the IIA, would eventually declare their bout a tie, marking the last time any man was forced to exhibit their genital strength in public. After thousands of fatalities in the name of virility, finally, rules were changed for the good of all. This event forced a complete redefinition of all the competition structures, moving away from thousands of years worth of sensationalism. Overt trials of strength and prowess were removed; replaced with a more cerebral focus, considering concubines in a completely new light.

This was in response to the revelations that Kerchenko’s heart attack was caused by historical abuse of anabolic steroids. The IIA have, as of January 2020, banned nearly six thousand concubines from any participation in contests or from donating as sires, as testing continues. Owen Chandler does not regret his actions that night. In every interview a determined assertion remains that not being a champion is irrelevant when placed next to saving a man who’d inspired him to personal glory. Kerchenko had been a long time hero right up to his final demise.

As a new decade begins for the IIA, the taint of drugs cheats refuses to go away. More and more women are turning away from the traditional methods of concubine insemination, preferring instead to risk natural conception, despite the many issues such practices ultimately present. It is no surprise therefore that today, Owen Chandler announced his retirement from all forms of participation, before coming out as bisexual and announcing his engagement to personal stylist and long-term companion Malcolm Fisher. His days as a sire and courtesan are now over.


Not a Job

I have a confession to make, well several actually. The main one is to do with my mistaken belief that writing certain combinations of fiction at once is actually doable, and there won’t be any clutter or overspill in my brain. This, sadly, is utter bollocks. As a result, EX/WHI is on hiatus for November. I cannot cope with two lots of sci-fi simultaneously and so summat has to give. I’m also aware that last month’s short story needs publishing, and there’s a backlog of stuff to archive. I’ve spent a lot of today making sure that’s easily doable, and we’ll have October’s story up on site for Monday.

All in all, we’re off to a comfortable start.

I am planning to write 2k a day, give or take, which will happen as the first thing I do every morning. That means front loading as much of the rest of the month’s content as possible, which should hopefully come to pass by this time on Monday. Therefore, after that point if there’s more than 2k a day in me I can just have a go, and the house does not disintegrate around me from inactivity. There’s an important secondary point to all of this too: this is a good idea, it is sound and deserves the effort, and I need to prove to myself again that this is doable.

On the flip-side, I’ve also committed myself to edit and finish a previously unused NaNo project, which was submitted for a contest last month. I’m 100% confident I won’t make the shortlist, but regardless of this it would be nice to have the story completed and at the 40k limit required to be a novella. Once that’s done, I’ll have two things I can pitch at people, and not just one. The two things are different enough that I shouldn’t get my brain confused as is the case with Taeken and EX/WHI. It’s all part of a long-term plan to change the world, a piece of work at a time.

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There’s still poetry, of course, and I have a Monday deadline for two pieces. For now, however, as you read this I’ll be out in the dark, taking pictures for a project I’m working on for 2019…

The Final Countdown

I’ve submitted my selection for the National Poetry Competition. Of course, there had to be a mistake:

This, unfortunately, is a consequence of my ASD brain, plus a last minute word change that was missed via spell checker. This stuff happens all the time, and would undoubtedly not hamstring me if the rest of the content works. However, I have no idea if you get that kind of attention in these contests. In fact, as this is only the second time the thing’s been entered for, we’ve reached a significant milestone. This time last year was when the whole desire to write in this form properly manifested.

It’s been a hugely transformative process ever since.

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There is now a significant range of work and styles in the collection. Starting next month I’ll be upping the contest entry count even further, because that’s the kind of challenge that is now required. Once I have rejections for various pieces of work they can be considered for my own chapbook, which is the next stage of this process. That can then be sold to recoup the cash spent on contests this year, whilst being forwarded to publishers in the hope I might catch someone’s eye.

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It also provides an opportunity to continue my graphical adventures. Designing the weekly layouts to accompany poems has become nearly as enjoyable as the writing process, because it has become further means by which my competence can be measured. It also provides inspirations for projects such as Symphony, which will debut on the Twitter feed starting Thursday.

I really don’t expect to win a major contest any time soon, but that doesn’t stop me wanting to keep trying. In fact, I have another submission to work on tomorrow in-between getting other stuff scheduled for November. Eventually, I might get lucky.

Until then, it is all about doing the best I can.